back to article KFC bot urges Germans to mark Kristallnacht with cheesy chicken

US fast food chain KFC has apologized for a promotional message sent via its app that encouraged customers to commemorate Kristallnacht by ordering extra cheese on their chicken. Kristallnacht was a pogrom carried out against Jewish Germans on the night of November 9, 1938, by Nazis. It takes its name from the shards of glass …

  1. Kubla Cant
    Thumb Down

    it uses a semi-automated system to link calendars with national holidays to its content creation process

    Seems to imply that Kristallnacht (or, as in the message, the even more explicit "Reichspogromnacht") is a national holiday in Germany. Do they have holidays to commemorate all their appalling actions?

    1. LogicGate Silver badge

      Not a holiday.. A day of comemmoration.

      Does the UK have similar for colonialism?

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

        Yep, second Monday in March:

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        I guess it;s a bit like their 9/11 . Did not know there was a national comemoration for that.

        So it was sorta like saying "Celebrate your 9/11 by buying this cool product!"

        (This probably means that you should never let computer AIs generate advertisements).

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          This probably means that you should never let computer AIs generate advertisements

          Aside from this specific awful incident. How much is a company's reputation worth? More, you'd have thought, than the cost of a senior staff member taking a couple of hours to making sure that nothing awful gets sent out by the "semi-automated systems". I don't know where the "semi" bit was.. It does sound rather like people trusting automated systems and not thinking for themselves. At any senior management level, neither the level who should have been doing this, nor the bosses above who should have been making sure that someone was doing this seem to have been doing any thinking.

    2. sebacoustic


      the 11/11 is kind of special in Germany... many think it's the Stasi's final revenge that when they had to give up and open the border they did it on a day that was not going to be a future national holiday - because of the Kristallnacht.

      Carnival fans in wide stretches of the catholic bits of western Germany have 11/11 as the start of the "silly season" (that goes on until after easter!)

      And of course it's also "remembrance day", it was called "Heldengedenktag" (Hero's Remembrance Day) under the Nazis and these days not many f's given in the general population unlike here in UK.

    3. Sp1z

      Are you sure the second "a" in your name is the right vowel?

    4. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      We, the Germans, don't have holidays like that. But we have reminders to keep us remembering of what went wrong in our history. A lot more nations should do that.

    5. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Holidays are not just for celebrations, they are also for remembrances.

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        "Holidays are not just for celebrations, they are also for remembrances."

        Eh, no. Holidays are for generally positive/happy things, marked by a period of leisure and recreation. Remembrance days, commemorations or days of mourning are for the more sombre occasions.

    6. gnasher729 Silver badge

      You spelt your last name long. Reichskristallnacht is an event that you will find in a German calendar. For good reason. That’s it.

  2. LogicGate Silver badge

    Imagine, KFC USA just could not imagine a nation having a day of commemoration for something bad that said nation had done.

    ..Although there is of course Columbus day...

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Memorial Day? I'm not that familiar with US holidays, but it seems to be a bit like Remembrance Day in the UK, which is today (and Sunday), and something which many people observe but certainly don't celebrate.

      Also 9/11 is something that they observe in the US, but certainly don't celebrate.

      1. tekHedd


        "9/11 is something that they observe in the US, but certainly don't celebrate."

        You wouldn't know it to see my Facebook feed on Sept 11. But then you know how people love to be angry. If challenged, they'll insist "no we're not celebrating it" but it does both look and quack like a celebration. Hypernationalism is weird.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Celebrate?

          Give it a few years and 9/11 will be a shopping holiday like remembrance day

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Celebrate?

            If another decode or two goes by without any major terrorist attacks I imagine there will eventually be claims that the war on terror has been "won", and it might become a celebration of sorts. We've already got an entire generation that has grown up with the oldest graduating college who have no memory of 9/11, in another 20 years over half the population will have no memory of it. The older crowd who remembers might complain, but people in the US love an excuse for fireworks.

            The problem with a politician making the claim we "won" the war on terror is that you'll look really stupid if there's a major attack after you say we've "won", but shame is in short supply with today's politicians so I doubt that would stop them. They'd claim they never said it, their words had been misinterpreted, that it was the Deep State trying to make them look bad, etc. etc.

      2. Snake Silver badge

        RE: Memorial Day

        That is it precisely, our Memorial Day is your Remembrance Day. Parades around the country to honor our veterans and heroes, living and past, and celebrations with food and drink.

        The only thing with do on 9/11 is solemn memorials of remembrance; every year so far there has been one down at Ground Zero, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania to remember the dead. Some localities also hold local remembrance events, especially if they lost someone to the attacks.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: RE: Memorial Day

          Our remembrance day is probably more like your 9/11 then. On Sunday, there will be a military parade to the war memorial at the town square, then the Mayor and various other people will lay wreaths at it. I think the actual veterans will meet afterwards for food and drink but that is not something the general population does.

          1. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: RE: Memorial Day

            Here in the US is more like a celebration of militarism. It can be quite embarrassing to someone brought up in a country like the UK where open 'patriotism' and celebration of militarism has always been regarded as a bit gauche.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nike did something similar several years ago

      Nike released a trainer called the "Black and Tan" to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in 2012.

      I'm sure one of our Irish readers can explain just how inappropriate that was.

      1. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Nike did something similar several years ago

        And let's not forget McDonald's and their Sundae Bloody Sundae

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nike did something similar several years ago

          Or Subway with their Lusitania Wrap?

          1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Silver badge

            Re: Nike did something similar several years ago

            A wrap? I thought it was a sub.

      2. xyz Silver badge

        Re: Nike did something similar several years ago

        and who could forget "the future's bright, the future's Orange"

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: Nike did something similar several years ago

          If you think 'The future's bright, the future's Orange' is offensive, then you're actively looking to be offended.

          And yes I'm aware of Irish history.

      3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: Nike did something similar several years ago

        Random things you learn. Black and Tan in the US has only ever referenced an Irish beer drink, never knew it had a different meaning for the Irish. Makes me wonder now if the drink was named by someone who did know, and has been having a laugh because it actually is a fairly popular drink over here. Can't stand it myself, as I don't like beer*, but the 'ol lady likes them.

        *Whiskey drinker, usually Canadian, sometimes Irish, but never Scotch. Don't know why on the Scotch.

    3. Someone Else Silver badge

      Imagine, KFC USA just could not imagine a nation having a day of commemoration for something bad that said nation had done.

      Let's see what they spew on or around January 6th....

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Buffalo Guy wings ?

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Let's see what they spew on or around January 6th...."

        or December 7th in the US or Japan.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge

          I was actually thinking 9/11 was a better comparison... (or 'worse', depending)

    4. Stork Silver badge

      Don’t quite get the fuss about Columbus. There were Norse and possibly Irish who had been to America before. Most likely also Basque (they were fishing at the Newfoundland Banks in 14th century)and odds are the Portuguese had been to Brazil before the official date in 1500, check the winds at currents around equator.

      Is it because he was first to publish?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        It was from a world's fair in the 1880s (ish) in Chicago.

        They needed a founding hero in a city with a large Italian population.

        The viking colonies in Newfoundland weren't known back then and the first landing in the actual USA was a British expedition by John Cabot (ironically also an Italian) which didn't sell as well to American patriots.

      2. Joe Gurman

        Word travels slowly across the ocean blue?

        Columbus enslaved and murdered indigenous people, as well as providing the Church the opportunity for forced conversions. Not exactly worth celebrating.

      3. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

        >>Is it because he was first to publish?

        In short, yes: Vikings arrived to America a lot earlier, but they did nothing about it, so much so that for a long time archeologists were not sure whether it had happeded at all. Basques and even Chinese may have reached America before Columbus, but again, nothing came out of it.

        The Spanish Crown was the first to actually do something with this knowledge. What they did is certailnly no cause for celebration, but it did change the course of Western history.

        As a related tidbit, I realized not long ago that many people from the USA, even people I consider well educated, actually believe that Columbus reached the coast of the US on October 12th, 1492. In reality he was never near what we now call North America.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Is it because he was first to publish?"

        It was an official voyage sanctioned by royalty not just a bunch of guys in a boat out drinking (and maybe even fishing).

        A lot of history is given an official stamp based on how well the story is told and if it's written down or not. This is why a lot of events have a religious bent to them. The large churches had more of a tradition of literacy and were very keen on writing things down. Those things were then taught far and wide to people that couldn't read and didn't have the resources to judge the veracity of the stories. Most of the histories were also told as stories to be more interesting and rememberable. The first "spin doctors" were the church historians and the politicians of today are still second rate in comparison.

      5. ravenviz Silver badge

        Not forgetting Indigenous Peoples' Day on the second Monday in October!

  3. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

    Brainless automation

    That's what you get from automating away everything and everyone.

    Computers and algorithms don't do context.

    if (day_marked_as_special_in_calendar(today()))


    send_message("Celebrate "+get_calender_entry(today())+" with us");


    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Brainless automation

      Exactly. WTF are they doing automating "special offers"? Sending an automated reminder to marketing maybe, but letting the computer make marketing decisions for them? Won't someone think of the poor marketers jobs?

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Brainless automation

      Merry recyclebin collection day! Celebrate with cardboard packaging

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Lazy coders

    Let me guess:

    // This program was automatically generated for your convenience by CoPilot on GitHub.

    void main()




  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    A double insult

    Actually this was a real whoopee of an insult, as chicken and cheese is not kosher because poultry and dairy produce should not be mixed.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: A double insult

      I had not realised that kosher depends not just in the ingredients but also the mix.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: A double insult

        Religious law is weird. It develops over long periods, through intense and impassioned debates, and not-always-logically-reputable arguments.

        1. Crypto Monad Silver badge

          Re: A double insult

          "I think it was 'Blessed are the cheesemakers.'"

          "What's so special about the cheesemakers?"

          "Well, obviously, this is not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturers of dairy products."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A double insult

        Doubly ironic because Chicken+Cheese is the unit-test for the rule

        ... Waiting for the Ramadan Bacon McRibs

      3. Michael 66

        Re: A double insult

        There's a prohibition against preparing "kid" in the milk of its mother. To be super-positive no law is broken, it's applied to any (kosher) land animal and any milk, not just goats.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: A double insult

          But it applies to chickens that don't give milk ? While you can eat an egg and its mother, the chicken, together.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: A double insult

            That argument was going on at least 50 years ago. Possibly for centuries before. But the universal First Law of Religionics applies. If in doubt- ban it.

        2. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: A double insult

          So, one of my favourite meals, Lamb Rogan Josh curry is right out.


        3. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

          Re: A double insult

          The (rumoured) secret recipe calls for the uncooked chicken to be marinated in buttermilk. So everything chicken-based on sale at Kid Fattening Centre is inherently non-kosher.

      4. Joe Gurman

        Re: A double insult

        In fact, the mix is the original kosher: You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A double insult

      How about chicken and egg over rice? The Japanese name for that popular dish, translated, is "Parent and Child over Rice", a permajoke.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: A double insult

        See also Paul Simon's song Mother and Child Reunion, the title of which was inspired by a similar dish.

    3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: A double insult

      Poor Jews, chicken sammies with cheese are wonderful. Shame they can't have them. I like them with bacon on, simply wonderful. Don't eat then as much as I used to though, the older I get the more waistline management I have to do.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shades of "The Producers"

    Where's Mel Brooks when you need him?!

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Shades of "The Producers"

      Wearing an Elon Musk mask and running Twitter?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Shades of "The Producers"

        You wish!!! In the Producers the plan was to lose money and it went wrong and made money. The exact opposite of what seems to be happening at Twitter :-)

        Although it is a wonderful thought and image :-)

    2. Michael 66

      Re: Shades of "The Producers"

      Furiously writing "Spring Chicken for Germany."

  7. Marty McFly Silver badge


    On the storefront side of KFC, computers are taking over the entire operation.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile....

      The robot gets your order wrong, but ignores your pleas to correct that order, because "customer service" is a feature slated for later -- that is, "not ever" -- implementation.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile....

        "The robot gets your order wrong, but ignores your pleas to correct that order"

        That would be a step up from the current customer service, where they deliberately scam you, then abuse you for asking for a refund. KFC is the only fast food restaurant in which I have ever had to call the police because the staff were acting literally criminally. Turned out they had a habit of pocketing cash and denying anyone had made an order, when it wasn't paid with a card. But were too stupid to disable the cctv, go figure.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile....

      Well, thank you for that. How I know how food is served in hell.

    3. bertkaye

      Re: Meanwhile....

      Bzzzrt .. here is your order ... three drumsticks one rat no cheese extra extra extra hot sauce h2so4 and robot lubricant leak

      1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile....

        Rat? Pull me out or pass the ketchup!

        Hey! You owe me for ... 2 rats!

    4. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile....

      Caption: "A special Robo-hand puts the order into a cell"

      These things just write themselves.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile....

      "a new chapter in the digital development of the Russian restaurant industry"

      "What could possibly go wrong?"

      Hmmmm....I wonder what happened to KFCs business in Russia?

    6. Sp1z

      Re: Meanwhile....

      "minimizing all possible indoor contacts"

      "switching the traditional cash desks with cashiers into digital kiosks"

      Yup those kiosks always look nice and bacteria-free when hundreds of people have used them...

  8. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    ...KFC said, its internal review process wasn't followed...

    I tend to rather believe that their review process was indeed followed as designed. But the meatsacks who approved the message had no feckin' clue what the Reichskristallnacht is. "Es klingt so schön romantisch..."

    1. nintendoeats

      How (Toytoa MR2)

      does (Gerber baby food)

      this (Come alive with Pepsi)

      keep (Ford Pinto)

      happening? (Got milk?)

      1. Diogenes

        Same thoughtlessness that Big Blue's "Win, Execute, Team" had in Japan where there is only one meaning for execute.

  9. T. F. M. Reader

    AI training

    A properly trained AI could have offered Germans something tasty to commemorate - and celebrate! - the fall of the Berlin wall on the 9th of November 1989.

    1. Grunchy Silver badge

      Re: AI training

      I'm not sure what event would be appropriate to celebrate with KFC cheesy chicken.

      Maybe the day you got out of the funny farm? Or the day you were committed to the funny farm?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    famous gaffes of history

    It's a good thing the bot didn't try to push 'oven-roasted chicken' and mashed potatoes with zyklon gravy.

  11. Jan 0 Silver badge

    This is the future of apology from marketing departments: "Oh, no, we're not guilty, it was the 'bot what done it."

    It certainly beats "The dog ate my homework".T

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      It's only a marginal variation on "computer made mistake" that has been around almost since the computer was invented :-)

      So-called AI just means it's working on steroids now and far more difficult to blame on a specific programmer since much of the "training" results is "black box" that no one claims to understand.

  12. Winkypop Silver badge

    Ignorance in no excuse

    Some marketing twonk saw this message (however generated) and approved it.


    Sounds fancy”

    The ignorance of youth.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Ignorance in no excuse


      Sounds fancy”

      The ignorance of youth."

      If I was ever taught anything about it in the US, it was first thing in the morning before I was awake. Was the advertising bot programming done in the US and exported? A whole 20 minutes (at most) should be spent understanding what a special day in a country is about before using it to advertise a product. I can think of many promotions that would be in very bad taste in many different countries. Nothing learned in school. I took an interest in the world after I recovered from school where it seems they did their best to dissuade me from ever wanting to learn anything. I think it was 3 years or so before I opened a book to read for pleasure after graduation.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Ignorance in no excuse

        I'm a voracious reader. Most of what I know about the world and history (yes, I know about Kristallnacht), is the result of reading. Not the result of formal secondary education for which history was more or less "Romans, Henry VIII, Battle of Britain". That doesn't mean there weren't gaps. It was an episode of Doctor Who that got me to look up about the partitioning of India. Well, wow, the shining glory of the Empire right there. FFS.

        Oh, and for some extra wartime stories made epic, there's always Sabaton. Listen to the song, look up the lyrics, then go read up on the story behind it all.

        School? Pfffttt.

    2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Ignorance in no excuse

      I'll admit to never having heard the term Kristallnacht before, but my initial reaction to seeing the word itself was something Christmas-related. And, Christmas is just around the corner, and the Germans are really big on celebrating it, and finally corps will run their campaigns several weeks ahead of the holiday.

      But, now that I know what it means to the Jews and Germans, won't make that mistake again.

      I am kinda surprised that KFC is in Germany. Didn't seem like the sort of stuff that would sell well in the land of sausages, speaking as a USian who lived there (near Kaiserslautern) for 3 years.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Ignorance in no excuse

        > surprised that KFC is in Germany.

        They've been here for several decades now. But not a widespread as the MD and BK. If only KFC would switch from their Coleslaw to some actual salad, like Burger King offers in Germany (instead of fries, if you ask). But in the end: WAY too expensive.

  13. Al fazed
    Thumb Up


    Artificial Intelligence as used in content creation apps widely available.

    I wonder how many more companies bought that content creation app ?

    UK Govermins must have used it, surely ?


  14. Grunchy Silver badge

    Yup, blame the rogue AI

    "It wasn't our fault, all of a sudden Artificial Intelligence went nuts on us."

    Repercussions? I'm already boycotting them for their fatty harmful food.

  15. nintendoeats

    One day, something truly terrible on a global scale will happen because of an automated system managed by machine learning.

    A serious investigation will be done, and the report will contain a variant of the phrase "A significant contributor to this accident was the lack of a safety culture in the organization".

    Then 30 years later, HBO will make a miniseries about it.

    This just one of many rumblings before the quake.

  16. the Jim bloke

    Its not just algorithms that pull these stunts

    Several years back one of the 2 major supermarket chains in Australia decided to try and monetise Anzac day - our national day for remembering our war dead.

    I havent shopped with them since...

  17. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

    How long ...

    ... til Bots wish American punters a happy 9/11, and promote what's on offer?

    1. the Jim bloke

      Re: How long ...

      ... special offers on cheap inter-city flights?

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